South32 is appealing a court decision that found waste emissions from the company’s Colombian mine and smelter had led to environmental pollution and health problems for members of the nearby community.
The company says it is in the process of appealing the Constitutional Court of Colombia’s March decision which ordered it to obtain a new environmental license and pay damages to communities affected by its Cerro Matoso operations.
The court found the mine had led to community members being diagnosed with health conditions including lung cancer and high levels of nickel in their blood and urine, as well as environmental issues including pollution in the air, soil and bodies of water adjacent to the mining complex.
The court said the compensation was necessary to mitigate the health and environmental consequences and to safeguard the future health and the environment.
It ordered the company to obtain a new license and initiate procedures to correct the environmental impacts of its operations and guarantee the health of the people who live nearby.
South32 said it received the court’s decision on Monday.
The mining and metals company said it could not fully assess any potential financial or operation impacts, as the decision orders various forms of compensation which are not yet quantifiable.
“Our work is continuing to understand the impact of the decision and we will advise of any material developments,” the company said on Wednesday.
“South32 is committed to contributing positively to the communities where we operate and is proud of the work we do to support social and economic growth within the local community surrounding Cerro Matoso.”